Tag Archives: vegetarian

beans and bok choy

After a weekend of meaty meat, I was ready for some basics on Monday. There was a head of bok choy in the fridge left over from Chinese New Year celebrations, so I found a basic recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and then went flipping through for something to accompany it. I stumbled across Bean Croquettes and latched on to it – I love croquettes, but they’re usually so much effort to make. This was full of protein and promised to be quick and painless.

cooking bean croquettes

The croquettes were relatively painless, though picking parsley leaves always makes me a little stir crazy. I had to mash the beans by hand, as we had just a little food processor that was pureeing the beans at the bottom and leaving the ones at the top. After that, things were fine, with the croquettes frying up nicely. I used a relatively fine-grained corn meal, as that’s what was around, and it worked out fine.

My favourite part was making chimichurri to accompany the croquettes. This was the one flavouring (other than salt) that could be found in Argentine restaurants and I enjoyed it, though I think it went better with these croquettes than a lot of things they had it with. I put in an excessive amount of garlic (FIVE cloves), which no one at the table minded, though it was good we didn’t have to go out that night. It’s a great sauce, though.

The bok choy was merely OK, in my opinion. I cooked it according to instructions, but I found the stems to be a little too soft for my liking – I had been hoping for a bit more crunch to remain. Maybe that’s not desirable with bok choy? I’m not sure. The others enjoyed it, though, and it was gone at the end of dinner. It’s hard to argue with that.

Overall, a decent meal of disparate parts. It definitely green enough to fit my needs this evening.

dinner is served

Quick-cooked Bok Choy

1 head bok choy, about 1.5 lbs
3 T peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
Salt & freshly ground pepper

1. Cut the leaves from the stems of the bok choy. Trim the stems as necessary, then cut them into roughly 1-inch pieces; rinse everything well. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until they just lose their crunch, about 3 minutes. Add the greens and about 1/2 cup water or vegetable stock.

2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the stems become very tender, about 10 minutes more; add a little more water if necessary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Bean Croquettes

2 c cooked or canned white or other beans, drained by with a few tablespoons of bean-cooking liquid reserved
1/2 c minced onion
1/4 c minced parsley leaves
1 egg, slightly beaten
Salt & freshly ground pepper
About 1/2 c coarse cornmeal or bread crumbs
Oil for frying

1. If you want to serve the croquettes hot, preheat the oven to 200*F. Mash the beans by putting them through a food mill or into a blender or food processor. Use a little bean-cooking liquid (or other liquid, such as water or stock) if the beans are too dry to mash. Do not puree; you want a few bean chunks in this mixture.

2. Combine the beans with the onion, parsley, and egg and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add cornmeal or bread crumbs by the tablespoon until you’ve made a batter that is barely stiff enough to handle. You should be able to shape it with your hands without its sticking, but it should be quite fragile or the cakes will be dry.

3. Cover the bottom of a large, deep skillet with about 1/8 inch of oil; turn the heat to medium. Shape the bean mixture into patties 2 to 3 inches across or into 1.5×3-inch longs and when the oil is hot, put them in the skillet. Don’t crowd them; you may have to work in batches.

4. Cook the croquettes until nicely browned on all sides, adjusting the heat so that they brown evenly without burning before turning, 7 or 8 minutes total. Keep warm in the over until ready to serve for up to 30 minutes, or serve at room temperature.

Chimichurri

2 c parsley leaves (thin stems are OK), rinsed and dried
salt
3 cloves garlic (more if you like it really garlicky)
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil, or more
3 T vinegar
at least 1 T hot red pepper flakes

1. Combine the parsley with a pinch of salt, the garlic, and about half the oil in a food processor or blender. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and adding the rest of the oil gradually.

2. Add the vinegar, then a little more oil or some water if you prefer a thinner mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve. Do not refrigerate, but will stay fine on the counter for a few days.

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vegetable stroganoff

Welcome back! I guess you should be saying that to me, after all the time I’ve been gone. I kind of left off when we hit Bulgaria – so much food! so little time! – and never got back to it. I’ll try to, once I’m settled – we ate some great food there.

I’m hoping to use this to keep track of and share some of the great recipes we hope to make part of our repetoire, be they from cookbooks or creations of the mind. We inherited a copy of the Moosewood Cookbook circa 1977 from Chris’s mom, with hand-drawn illustrations and hand-lettered recipes. I thought it was from a restaurant, as I’ve seen a few books by them, and it is – a vegetarian restaurant in Ithica, NY that is apparently quite well known.

As we haven’t been eating the best lately (Christmas, New Year, travel, birthdays), we decided to hunker down and make some good stuff from this book. And that leads us to today’s dinner, Vegetable Stroganoff. I loved Beef Stroganoff as a kid and was really looking forward to making and eating this tonight. Note: Just cause it has vegetables, doesn’t mean it’s the best thing in the word for you – 3 cups of sour cream does not a lean waistline make. Still, this recipe was really, really good and is staying in our good books.

Vegetable Stroganoff
makes 6 servings, takes about 1 hour to prepare

1. The sauce
3 c sour cream
1.5 c yogurt
3 Tbs dry, red wine
1 c chopped onion
1/2 lb chopped mushrooms
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dill weed
dash of tamari sauce (didn’t have any, we used regular soy sauce)
paprika
black pepper

2 Tbs butter

Sauté onions and mushrooms in butter until onions are soft. Combine all ingredients in the top of a double boiler and heat gently about 30 minutes.

2. While the sauce simmers, steam 6 cups chopped, fresh vegetables. Highly recommended: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, peppers, cabbage, zucchini, cherry tomatoes. (I did the first five and it was quite good.)

3. Cook 4 cups raw egg noodles in boiling, salted water until tender. Drain and butter.

Assemble the Stroganoff on a platter and garnish with freshly-minced scallions.

Note: Be very generous with the black pepper. While eating it, I added a little more and it made it just right for me. Next time, I’d probably add a few grinds right before the sauce finished cooking, as that might help take the edge off for anyone who finds the fresh-ground pepper just a little too zippy. But I’ll still add more to mine.

This was VERY well-received tonight. No talking at all while eating – good sign.

koshari

One of the lunchtime staples here in Egypt, or at least in Cairo, is koshari. It’s a giant carb overload, but it’s really cheap, so it’s quite popular, probably for both reasons. You start with a bed of tiny cylinder noodles, top it with some rice, and pile some lentils, chick peas, and fried garlic on top. Most places give you a seperate dish of tomato sauce to add yourself, but some will put that on for you as well. At every table, you get containers of hot pepper oil and garlic vinegar to add as you desire. While not high in vegetable content – garlic’s a vegetable, right? – it’s satisfying and one of the cheapest things you can eat in a restaurant.

Koshari places are always busy at lunch wherever they are, and are easily identifiable by the big silver vats full of the various ingredients near the front door. We’ve actually walked down streets just looking for this tell-tale sign of a cheap place to eat. It’d be hard to make for yourself due to all the prep, which is too bad, as I could see this being a really satisfying lunch sometimes.

malaysia – banana leaf goodness

Our last meal in Malaysia was at a restaurant we had forgotten about when we first landed and nearly forgot about when we returned – the banana leaf restaurant. There are actually quite a few of this type of restaurant, but we have one that we visited a couple of times last time we went through and Christine visited on her first visit here around five years ago. As the name may imply, you are given a banana leaf as a plate and various vegetarian selections are spooned onto it. (You can also order meat dishes, but with such a good veggie selection, we went with the basic choice). There were poppadums with a dried, salty chili pepper, a couple of types of chutney, an eggplant dish, something with potatoes, something made with a kind of leaf (yeah, accurate, right?), some kind of soupy thing up in the corner that was pretty plain, and daal on the rice.

They were all pretty good, though I’m a sucker for eggplants. The best part about it, though, is eating with your hands. Only the right – I think you’ve heard what the left is traditionally used for (if not, it’s too dirty to use your left hand afterward, believe me). I quite enjoy eating with my hands, scooping up a bit of rice and taking some veggies with it for a satisfying mouthful. Christine loved it as well.

The only thing that could top this fantastic dinner was a yogurt lassi, so we ordered one. Two, actually – one during the meal, one after. They’re just so darn good. Sitting with a full belly and drinking a delicious mango lassi at the end of a hot day sits near the top of my highlight list of the trip, a trip filled with beaches and diving, so imagine how good it must be! I’d highly recommend this place to anyone visiting KL – Govinda’s Banana Leaf is the name, if I remember correctly. Go forth and eat like man was born to!

buddhist lunch box

The Buddhist lunch box place near our school probably takes the distinction of being the place where we’ve eaten the most meals in Taiwan. There are four main reasons for this: it’s cheap, it’s close to work, it’s healthy, and it’s quite delicious. Being a Buddhist restaurant, the last is perhaps the most surprising. Buddhists don’t use any animal products in their cooking, so that means no eggs, no milk, no cheese, and of course no meat. I’ve also been told they also avoid garlic and onions, which may be true, as this place doesn’t ever seem to have any in their cooking, though they aren’t afraid of chili peppers. However, the vegetables they have are well-prepared, crunchy (in a nation which tends to overcook anything coming out of the ground), and plentiful. Typical offerings include peppers, cauliflower, carrots, cooked celery, green beans, corn, broccoli, eggplant, pea pods, lotus root, many different types of green vegetable, bitter gourd, pumpkin, edamame beans, and fava beans. There is also a varied selection of tofu, our favourite being one that has the consistency of chicken, done in a variety of sauces.

The best part is that unlike other lunch box places which charge by the number of different items you take (meats cost more than veggies), everything is considered the same – your plate is just weighed at the end. Throw in the fact that a simple brothy soup and tea is included and you definitely have a winner. We ate here at least four times a week for over a year – they knew us quite well.

I don’t know the address, but they’re on Yishin 3rd Road (I think), across from a cake shop and a 7-11. I’ll try for a more real address soon.

not so much meat

There is a lot of meat in the Andes. I mean A LOT. Almost every dish has some meat in it. I would guess that being vegetarian might get repetitive if one is forced to choose off of a typical menu. That said, there are some good non-meat dishes to be found.

First off, a delicious creamy quinoa soup. I’d been looking for one of these and I’m glad we found one. Potatoes, greens, quinoa, pepper – a great way to fill a belly and warm up on a chilly Andean afternoon.

Being the birthplace of potatoes, these tubers feature highly in both meat and non-meat dishes. Two of my favourite dishes are centered around potatoes. I’ve already talked about one – papas rellenas, or stuffed potatoes. I want to include another picture here just to show how very ubiquitous they are. These potatoes were bought on the street for our lunch one day and cost us about 50 cents. And they were delicious.

The other dish is papas huancainas. There isn’t really a translation for this dish (Huancayan potatoes?), that’s just their name. We were pretty close to Huancaya in the south (it’s up in the mountains near Ayacucho), so we had them as close as could to their origin. Another creamy sauce made with the yellow ají pepper covering potatoes, it’s simple and usually served as an appetizer.

Stuffed avocados were a delicious surprise that we may continue to make. Really, all it is is chicken salad (or shrimp salad on the coast, yum yum) on half of a peeled, slightly underripe avocado (a very ripe one would be too soft and gooey). Another great appetizer or light lunch.

Lastly, the simple Peruvian breakfast we found at a market in Ayacucho was meat-free. Carb-heavy for a long day, it was filling and hot and definitely different – rice, fries, and an egg. While we ate, we talked with the other people around the table about how breakfast is different in North America. Buy food, get culture. That’s what we’re here to do!

a taste of thailand wherever you are

Mmm, Thai. I love it. Couldn’t get enough of it, especially when I was in Thailand. Ha! Everybody loves it, but it can be quite hard to make – one reason is the complexity/rareness of the ingredients. Well, here’s one recipe that isn’t SO bad. Though you may have to make a visit to some kind of Asian market or at least the international aisle of your local supermarket. The good news is that you’ll love it so much that you’ll want to make it again and again, actually saving you time. Really! Anyhoo, it’s one of our favourites and one of the most well-known dishes out of Thailand.

Pad Thai

1 shallot, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
vegetable oil
rice noodles, half-cooked
2 tbsp vinegar (or tamarind juice)
4 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 t chili powder
2 eggs
bean sprouts
green onions
crushed peanuts
optional: shrimp, chicken, tofu

Cook the garlic and shallot in oil. If you want chicken, add it to cook. Add the half-cooked rice noodles and stir everything together. Mix the vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, and chili powder, then add to noodle mixture. You may need more – there should be enough liquid to coat everything in the pan. Turn the heat up to the highest setting. Push the noodles aside and add beaten eggs to the open space and cook them halfway, folding them into the noodles at that point. Add some bean sprouts and green onion (and shrimp or tofu, if you would like it). Once everything is mixed together, remove from heat and serve. In Thailand, they have small bowls of sugar, chili powder, lemon slices, peanuts, and raw bean sprouts so everyone can sprinkle and add more flavours as they like.